Doc Rivers: Post Game 7 comments in 2021 weren’t what made Ben Simmons leave Philadelphia

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In an interview on ESPN “The VC Show with Vince Carter” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he and Ben Simmons had a good talk after the trade that sent the prodigal point guard to Brooklyn. Rivers also said he doesn’t believe his controversial comment after Game 7 of the Sixers-Hawks series in 2021 has anything to do with Simmons’ resistance last season.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Rivers told reporters when asked if Simmons could be the point guard for a championship team.

“Obviously he struggled from the free throw line, and that became a factor in this series,” Rivers continued. ” There is no doubt. I still believe in him, but we have work to do. We’re going to have to get in the gym, put in a lot of work and move on.

Rivers’ comment was one of two after the game cited by many in the NBA community as the straw that ultimately shattered the relationship between the player and the franchise.

Joel Embiid was much more critical without naming Simmons when explaining how the momentum changed when Simmons let an open lay-up through that would have tied the game at 88:

“I’ll be honest, I thought the turning point was when we – I don’t know how to put it – but I thought the turning point was just that we had an open shot and we made a free throw,” Embiid said. June night 2021.

On Tuesday, Rivers told VC that the issue that drove Simmons out of Philadelphia had nothing to do with his comments and had everything to do with a buildup of grievances between the player and the franchise. He didn’t provide specifics but seemed to suggest that Simmons and Embiid’s relationship was at the center of things.

“That comment had nothing to do with why Ben wanted to leave,” Rivers said. “Alright? Let me say this. There were a lot of things like Ben told me – and publicly now – that happened long before I got there. Which frustrated me, it’s that I still think it shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave. I didn’t and I told Ben. I kept telling him that. It’s not not why you want to leave a team. You solve these problems. They didn’t work and so yes, we had a conversation. Not a long, long conversation, but we had a good conversation.

Rivers said Simmons initiated the conversation which he said he enjoyed. Simmons did indeed say he called other members of the Sixer organization after the February trade … but not Embiid.

“Ben called me afterwards which I thought was great and we had a good chat but the thing was he was already leaving and I really believe even though 99% of people didn’t that we could make it work with Ben and Jo and the team because I’m built like that. That’s what coaches have to do.

Rivers said he hoped Simmons would do well in Brooklyn.

“I want the child to succeed. I don’t have bad feelings for him. He didn’t do anything wrong to me. I just want most guys to do it, really. Now I want to kick their ass when they’re not on my team. It’s my competitive side, but as a human being, I think we should all want Ben and all those guys to be successful.

Simmons, of course, has been the face of the Nets franchise lately with the status of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving still unsettled. He was at the New York Liberty game on Tuesday night at Barclays Center and last week he was the main host for the Nets when FC Barcelona passed through the HSS Training Center as part of a promotional tour.

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